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Couponing Basics



I got hooked on coupons about two years ago and have been using them ever since.  To me coupons are cash in a different form.  If the coupon is for a dollar off an item, I see it as a dollar bill.  


People tend not to use coupons because they can get a little tricky and are a bit time consuming.  I have to agree, but the little time getting to know the process will PAY off in the long term.  Just give it a try.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  Start small and see how it goes.  What will you lose? For the people that have never tried couponing, these are the very basics.  More specifics to come.  


Manufacture Coupons vs. Store Coupons: There are two different types of coupons.  The first are manufacture coupons, which are coupons from the company of the product.  These can be used at any store that accepts coupons and sells that specific product.  Then there are store coupons, which are only redeemable at the store that is selling the product. It will be clearly marked on the coupon which one it is.  The best way to save is “stacking”  the manufacture coupon with a store coupon for double the savings.  Lets use the purchase of Colgate toothpaste from CVS as an example.  If you have a manufacture coupon from Colgate for $1, and a CVS store coupon for $1 off any toothpaste from the coupon print center, you could use both for a total of $2 off one tube of toothpaste. 


Read The Fine Print: All coupons have rules and restrictions.  They will also have an expiration date that is non-negotiable.  A requirement could be how many items to buy per coupon.  Some coupons require multiple items. For example, you might have a coupon for $2 off 2 bottles of All Laundry detergent.   Also, size of the item might be specified like a coupon for Dawn Dish Soap 16oz size bottle or larger.  


Always Check Your Receipt: I cannot tell you how many errors I have caught.  After checking out, I find a spot out of the way before I leave the store to skim my receipt.  If I see something that doesn’t look right I go to customer service with my cart of groceries and talk to them politely about the discrepancy. Most people do not know that Kroger has a policy that if an item scans for different than listed on the shelf, you get the item free!   


In my eyes, coupons are only a benefit if you are saving money on items you were already planning on buying AND the coupon is making the item cheaper than the generic alternative.  I know everyone has their brand loyalty to certain items.  Our family is very biased to Cottenelle toilet paper.  When it comes to toilet paper, my husband has made it clear that this is something he wasn’t willing to sacrifice.  I just so happen to agree.  In this case, I specifically search for Cottenelle Manufacture coupons and wait for them to go on sale. Then I pair the coupon with the deal for extra savings.  For most things I don’t even notice the difference between name brand and generic.  Take a few extra minutes and compare the two item prices.  This is where a small calculator may come in handy.  You also want to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.  For example, if you are buying diapers and you are comparing generic to name brand, but the amount of diapers in the box is different, make sure you calculate price per diaper to accurately compare.


The REAL key to couponing is pairing a coupon with a store sale.  If you have a brand name coupon and the item is full price, chances are the generic will be a better deal.  Even when compared to the brand name item with a coupon.  But, if you catch a name brand item on sale and pair it with a coupon, you will probably get it for less than the generic alternative.  


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